Security and Privacy on the U3 Platform

Be Smart with U3

Introduction to Programming Smart Cards

Factually speaking, a smart card is a micro computer, though it does not include the keyboard and display screen (most Smart Card readers do provide it to facilitate operation), it does have all the other essential elements which a general-purpose computing platform would have.

As far as appearance is concerned, it looks like similar to a ATM or Credit card with a small chip contacts on one face. These contacts are essentially the electrical interface for a very small and very highly integrated computer which is embedded in the card.

This micro-computer includes a 8 to 32 bit CPU and some kind of memory depending on the purpose of the card. A few specialized cards even includes an auxiliary processor (a cryptographic co processor or something similar) that helps the main CPU perform a dedicated or specialized computations. Effectively, though it has significantly less power than a desktop, it does offer something very valuable; it indeed is a proven secure computing platform.

Sumarrizing it, we may say that a smart card is a portable, tamper-resistant computer with a well organized data storage in the form of a file system on the embedded memory. It has the exact shape and size of a regular credit/debit card, can hold varying amout of data or sensitive information, and can do a limited amount of data processing as well, and can be coupled to specialized co processors to perfrom heavy number crunching.

The central processing unit (CPU) in a smart card is typically an 8-bit microcontroller (Offered by several vendors like Atmel© )that has the computing power measured in MIPS; however, 32-bit processors are now commonplace in the smart card world. However, you do need a Smart Card reader to let a computer and a smart card communicate, you place the card in or near (in the case of contactless smart cards) the smart card reader, which is connected to the computer via a serial or USB interface.

until next blog,

– Editor (


October 27, 2006 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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